Mining the plasma-proteome associated genes in patients with gastro-esophageal cancers for biomarker discovery.
Gastro-esophageal (GE) cancers are one of the major causes of cancer-related death in the world. There is a need for novel biomarkers in the management of GE cancers, to yield predictive response to the available therapies. Our study aims to identify leading genes that are differentially regulated in patients with these cancers. We explored the expression data for those genes whose protein products can be detected in the plasma using the Cancer Genome Atlas to identify leading genes that are differentially regulated in patients with GE cancers. Our work predicted several candidates as potential biomarkers for distinct stages of GE cancers, including previously identified CST1, INHBA, STMN1, whose expression correlated with cancer recurrence, or resistance to adjuvant therapies or surgery. To define the predictive accuracy of these genes as possible biomarkers, we constructed a co-expression network and performed complex network analysis to measure the importance of the genes in terms of a ratio of closeness centrality (RCC). Furthermore, to measure the significance of these differentially regulated genes, we constructed an SVM classifier using machine learning approach and verified these genes by using receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve as an evaluation metric. The area under the curve measure was > 0.9 for both the overexpressed and downregulated genes suggesting the potential use and reliability of these candidates as biomarkers. In summary, we identified leading differentially expressed genes in GE cancers that can be detected in the plasma proteome. These genes have potential to become diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers for early detection of cancer, recurrence following surgery and for development of targeted treatment.